Education on Nutrition

Nutrition Month is a health awareness campaign held every July. It came into being when former President Ferdinand Marcos signed Presidential Decree No. 491 (Nutrition Act of the Philippines) on June 25, 1974, creating the National Nutrition Council to promote good nutrition.

This year’s theme is “Healthy diet, gawing habit for life”, which includes the following components:

  • Reduction of obesity
  • Prevention of malnutrition
  • Helping Filipinos distinguish between healthy and unhealthy foods

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Fighting Obesity and Being Overweight

Excess weight occurs when a person has accumulated excess body fat. Since 1980, worldwide obesity has nearly doubled. In 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults were considered overweight. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Philippines is one of the developing countries with high levels of obesity. A survey conducted last 2011 showed that 22.3% of Filipino adults are overweight and 6.1 percent are obese.

Why do people become obese?

Consuming too many calories. The energy value of food is measured in units called calories. When we eat and drink, we put energy into our bodies. But eating too many calories and not burning enough of them can lead to weight gain.

Consumption of processed or fast food. Such foods that are high in fat and sugar may appeal to our taste buds, but are detrimental to health. They make you pile on the pounds, but not on the nutrition.

Lack of Physical Activity. People need to exercise to burn excess fat, improve muscle tone, boost energy, and naturally increase your body’s production of the human growth hormone.

Why do people become Overweight?

Excessive food intake that aren’t burned turn into extra pounds. But other factors that aren’t related to diet and a sedentary lifestyle can also cause you to be overweight. Here are some of them:

  • According to the archived journals of Disease in Childhood, babies of mothers who smoked during their pregnancy are 48% percent more likely to be overweight. Dr. Stephen Weng of the UK Center for Tobacco Control Studies at the University of Nottingham said that the risk may be because of the poor lifestyle and behavior that many smokers possess. Breastfeeding may help reduce the risk of babies becoming overweight, but babies born to women who smoked weighed less at birth and were breastfed for a shorter period of time.
  • Stress is an indirect factor of weight gain. Nutritionist Rita Gatchalian says that when people are stressed, they tend to overeat. This is because the stress hormone cortisol increases one’s appetite. Lack of sleep, also a stressor, may also cause weight gain.

  • Some medicines can slow down the rate at which your body burns calories and may increase your appetite or cause your body to hold on to extra water.

  • Antidepressants can increase cravings for carbohydrates.
  • Steroids tend to cause insomnia, increased appetite and water retention.
  • Beta blockers and angiotensin-receptor blockers which lower blood pressure and prevent migraine respectively, slow down metabolism.

Obesity Vs. Overweight

Obesity is a hundred percent increase of the normal weight for one’s body type, while being overweight is 50% higher than the normal weight. Being obese and overweight can lead to diabetes, high blood, and hypertension.

Can an overweight person be malnourished?

Malnutrition or “bad nutrition” is a state in which a deficiency, excess or imbalance of the essential parts of a healthy diet cause measurable effects on body tissue.

Through the years, the term has been associated to people who don’t have enough to eat—people whose bones stick out from their narrow frames. But today, malnourishment has a new face. Overweight people can still be malnourished if they eat foods that don’t have the proper nutrients.

To make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet, remember the following:

  • Nothing good comes from eating sugar.
  • Avoid too much sodium.
  • Protein is good for our body but take note that eating large amounts of protein inhibit the proper functioning of our digestive system.
  • Good carbs such as fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, and whole grain can help lower blood cholesterol and heart disease.
  • Bad carbs are foods that contain almost no nutrients and are high in sugar. Soft drinks, cakes and ice cream are examples of bad carbs.

Nutritionist Rita Gatchalian

The Importance of good Nutrition

Food provides our bodies with energy and nutrients so we can live, grow, and function properly. They can protect us from diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Eating nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains will help you maintain a healthy body weight. It can also delay the effects of aging, and can positively affect your mood and increase focus.

By Panahon TV Intern- Darlene Joy Lodronio